Sunday, April 6, 2008

Second Chance

A Guten Rosh Chodesh Nissan! :=)

A couple of quick notes on Parshah Tazria before my husband and I start tackling the kitchen this afternoon, as per our Pesach cleaning schedule...
  1. Why is there mention of bris milah having to be performed on the eighth day, in the middle of the description of how many days a woman counts post-childbirth?
  2. Why do we have these whole drawn-out process of determining whether or not someone is afflicted with tzaaraas?
With regards to the first question, the reason for the mention is to highlight the correlation between gender and tumah by stressing the differing innate spiritual levels of each gender. A woman will carry less tumah for giving birth to a boy than a girl, because by giving birth to the girl the woman has lost more purity; that is why she must wait longer, to restore the additional purity that she lost by releasing the girl into the world- additional in comparison to a boy. Indeed, until bris milah is performed on the boy, he is not spiritually "pure'; the milah is the final step in his spiritual introduction to this world and into Klal Yisroel. Finally, it is interesting to note that the mention of bris includes bris is an element in the immediate post-natal period for the mother. In other words, this entire pasuk is dealing with the woman, and with her spiritual post-delivery, of which bris plays a part. By performing bris milah on her son, which is bittersweet emotionally for most mothers (what mother likes to see her baby cry out from surgery?), the mother is able to "do teshuvah" for the spiritual "impurity" that rests upon the boy until milah is performed.

Similarly, the process of proclaiming a person as afflicted with tzaaraas carries a similar message. Why not just view the affliction and deem the person contaminated? Why the first week and then second week? In the case of an old affliction that has not healed, yes, the determination is immediate. For a new affliction however, the process is certainly drawn out.

When someone is afflicted with tzaaraas, it is a horrible embarrassment. Everyone knows that you have performed the given aveirah, and you are essentially excommunicated until you go through the necessary purification process, which is itself lengthy and humiliating. The purpose therefore is to provide the person ample time to do teshuvah and avoid having to endure this most public of punishments. You must go before the Kohen repeatedly, because Hashem hopes that in doing so, in having to face the Kohen who is the embodiment of purity and service to Hashem, you be humbled enough privately to do teshuvah and circumvent having to travel down the path to punishment.

We consequently find in both aspects of the parshah tremendous compassion on the part of Hashem, in His providing us the appropriate amount of time to return to our "normal" state of purity.

May everyone have a great Rosh Chodesh, and have an easy time with their Pesach preparations.

No comments:

Post a Comment